Obscure Historical Figure of the Day #10: John Rykener

(For part 9, click here.)

Transgender rights are the frontier of human rights debates in Western countries at the moment. To many, gender fluidity in the West might seem a very modern idea. So it may come as a shock to some to learn of the not insignificant presence of transvestites and other gender-unspecific individuals throughout European history.

One particular noteworthy individual was John Ryken (also known as Eleanor), who was famously interrogated b y officials in the 14th century for being a “cross-dressing” male prostitute. Here is an image of the famous text describing Ryken’s questioning:

The document is notable, according to Wikipedia, as the only surviving official record from that period that mentioned same-sex intercourse. The entry also states that:

During his interrogation, Rykener claimed to have had many clients including priests, monks and nuns; he said that he preferred priests because they paid better than others.

You can read the full text of Rykener’s interrogation here.